Monthly Archives: October 2007

Trapped on the front line, the Christians who fled Baghdad for safety

Persecuted under Saddam Hussein for being Kurdish, then chased from Baghdad because they are Christian, families in a village on Iraq’s border with Turkey find themselves on a new front incursion.

The tiny Christian enclave of Dash Ta Takhe in the Khameer mountains has been shaken by Turkish shelling in recent weeks, forcing two thirds of its 150 population to flee to safer areas.

Some locals, however, mainly the men, are staying put, either because they refuse to evacuate or because they cannot afford to go anywhere else. “Even if we all die we will not leave the village,” Gurial Warda, the mayor, whose wife and children have fled to Zakho, the nearest large town, said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Iraq War, Religion & Culture

The God Delusion and Alister E McGrath

Stephen Crittenden: Let’s talk about some of the specific arguments in The God Delusion, that you’ve been refuting. The key idea is Dawkins’ view that the natural sciences lead to atheism, that they make belief in God impossible. You say science leads not to atheism but to agnosticism.

Alister E. McGrath: That’s right. If it leads anywhere; and the point I try to make is actually the natural sciences can be interpreted in an atheist way and certainly Dawkins gives that perspective. But of course there are many, many scientists who are Christians, people like Owen Gingerich, who’s Professor of Astronomy at Harvard, or Francis Collins, who directs the Human Genome Project. And my real concern is that Dawkins seems to be wanting to say that if you’re a real scientist, you cannot be a religious believer for that reason. That there is this fundamental tension between science and faith. And I want to say that the history of the thing just doesn’t back him up on this point.

Stephen Crittenden: Indeed, is that one of the biggest weaknesses in Dawkins’ book, that he doesn’t acknowledge the role of the churches and religious believers in the history of science: the Jesuits in astronomy and seismology, and medicine, for instance; or the fact that the Big Bang theory was first proposed by a Belgian priest. And of course the general public doesn’t know all that much about this history either.

Alister E. McGrath: Well that’s right. I mean Dawkins has this very simplistic idea that science and religion have always been at war with each other, and he says only one can win, and let’s face it, it’s going to be science. But the history just doesn’t take into that place. The history suggests that at times there has been conflict, but at times there has been great synergy between science and religion and many would say that at this moment, there are some very exciting things happening in the dialogue between science and religion. What Dawkins is offering is a very simplistic, slick spin on a very complex phenomenon. It’s one that clearly he expects to appeal to his readers, but the reality is simply not like that at all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Apologetics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

NY Times: A Principal Who Cracks Down on Stress

It was 6:30 p.m. The lights were still on at Needham High School, here in the affluent Boston suburbs. Paul Richards, the principal, was meeting with the Stress Reduction Committee.

On the agenda: finding the right time to bring in experts to train students in relaxation techniques.

Don’t try to have them teach relaxation in study hall, said Olivia Boyd, a senior. Students, she explained, won’t want to interrupt their work. They were already too busy before or after school for the training.

No one is busier than Josh Goldman. Captain of varsity tennis, president of the Spanish club and a member of the student council and the Stress Reduction Committee, Josh was not able to squeeze in the meeting at all.

Mr. Richards noted his absence wryly. “Josh is a perfect example,” he said. “He’s got a hundred things going on.”

Here is the high-powered culture that Mr. Richards is trying to change, even if only a little.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Maine Episcopalians vote to rescind 1496 charter

Maine Episcopalians passed a resolution at their annual convention Friday that calls for England to rescind a charter issued more than 500 years ago.

The resolution calls for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Queen of England to disavow the 1496 royal charter issued to John Cabot and his sons, according to information on the Web site for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. It passed by a vote of 175 to 135.

The Maine diocese is the first in the nation to pass such a resolution, according to John Dieffenbacker-Krall, a member of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Old Town and the executive director of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission. He asked the diocesan Committee on Indian Relations to submit the resolution to the convention.

The charter authorized the Cabots “to find, discover, and investigate whatsoever islands, countries, regions, provinces of heathens and infidels … which before this time were unknown to all Christians.” The charter also says that “John and his sons or their heirs may conquer, occupy and possess, as our vassals and governors, lieutenants and deputies therein, acquiring for us the dominion, title and jurisdiction of the same towns, castles, cities, islands, and mainlands so discovered.”

This Doctrine of Discovery, set forth by King Henry VII, was relied upon as justification for the dispossession of lands and the subjugation of non-Christian people, according to information on the Web site.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

With Revenue Down, $1.8 Million Deficit Looms for Executive Council

The majority of the deficit is due to an updated forecast of revenue about 2 percent less than the $50.4 million approved in the budget by the 75th General Convention in 2006. The remainder is due to additional estimated expenses of $444,000 attributed to the Church Center staff reorganization.

Treasurer Kurt Barnes said some of the lower-than-expected revenue would be offset by applying money available from lower-than-budgeted expenses this year. He expects similar savings on expenses in 2008, but that amount is set by General Convention until expenses are realized.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Kendall Harmon: The Powerful Woman With No Lines And No Name

One of my friends has the delightful habit of sending me New Yorker cartoons. Certainly one of the best features a man behind a bookstore counter on top of which is prominently featured Allen Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind. He has a big smile on his face and says to the customer “I haven’t read it, but it’s a great book!”

Alas, that is too often a true reflection of how many Episcopalians actually relate to Holy Scripture.

It is such a fabulous book, but we only experience it when we learn to be Scripture students and spiritually attentive Bible readers.

Consider the story of when Simon the Pharisee has the preacher over for dinner (Luke 7:36-50). As for many a good Episcopalian, having the rector over is a big deal for Simon. Etiquette must be properly followed. Invitations must be carefully issued. Everything must be done in correct Anglican fashion, decently and in order.
Then a woman from the wrong side of the tracks crashes the party. She does not have an invitation, and she violates every protocol. Indeed, having messed up all those things, she cannot even give to Jesus the gift she wants to give him in the way she wants to give it. Her heart is so broken by the depth of Jesus’ love for her that when she simply gets behind him she starts crying, and then before you know it the ointment intended for his head ends up on his feet.

Simon is livid, and has a conversation with himself about Jesus’ failure to get upset and to follow the proper procedure when something like this happens.

But Jesus marches to a different drummer. “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing,” Pascal said, and Jesus not only spoke in but also heard the language of love. He saw more than what this woman was doing; he heard why she was doing it. She was loved, and wanted to find a way to say thank you.

Many a parent has accepted a very strange gift from a child with pleasure and joy ”” because it was given out of love. I remember Mom showing me early letters I had written. One of her favorites, written when I was about 6, read: “Dear Mom: I hate you. Love, Kendall.” There isn’t a parent reading this who doesn’t understand why my mother had it in the file.

Pleased about what the woman was doing, Jesus entered into Simon’s conversation with himself and told him a story. Two people owned someone money, one owed 5 million dollars, and the other 50,000. They both had all their debts erased. Who do you suppose was more grateful? Simon knew the answer and gave it.

Then Jesus commended the woman as a heroine in the kingdom of God to Simon. Do you see her, he said. She did what she did because she knew how completely she had made a mess of her life and therefore how profoundly God had forgiven her. As a result, she loved much and wanted to find a way to say it.

What a story. The heroine is a woman who has no name and no lines. That does not sound like a prescription for a successful play, does it, to have the key character without a name and with nothing to say?

But Jesus specialized in turning the world upside down. This woman has the real power that changes the world, the power of the Holy Spirit that enables her to be loved by God in Christ and then to seek no matter what to try to express it to others.

I hope to meet her in heaven some day. In the meantime I am going to plunge myself into the Bible and try to read it carefully and let it hit me with the full force God intends it to. It really is a great book.

–The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is editor of the Anglican Digest and Convenor of this blog

Posted in * By Kendall, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Consents Given for the Election of Mark Lawrence as Next South Carolina Bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has been notified a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of Standing Committees have consented to the election of the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence as the 14th bishop of South Carolina. A consecration is planned for Saturday, January 26th, 2008. The diocese looks forward to a continued vigorous mission under its new bishop.

Update: An ENS article is there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Boston Globe: The Red Sox make a habit of success

This four-game sweep proceeded with delightful inexorability to its 4-3 conclusion last night. As is to be expected in any World Series, there were bumps along the way as the Colorado Rockies strived valiantly to avoid defeat, but the Red Sox countered every threat to their preeminence. What a difference from the surprise and relief three years ago when the Sox won their first championship of Major League Baseball in 86 years.

Read it all and congratulations to Red Sox fans.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

In Chicago, Episcopalians grill bishop candidates

They shared personal tragedies, called on the church to defend the downtrodden and the marginalized, and defended their own answers to God’s calling.

Eight finalists for the next Episcopal bishop of Chicago tackled immigration, stewardship, gentrification and the full inclusion of gays and lesbians during a tour of the diocese that ended Sunday.

Traditionally called a walkabout, the tour gave parishioners their only opportunity to grill the diverse slate of candidates before the election at the annual diocesan convention in Wheeling Nov. 10. The new bishop will succeed Bishop William Persell, who has led the diocese since 1999.

With two Africans and three women, including a lesbian, the slate reflects the changing face of the church. It also includes two local priests, indicating that some parishioners want a bishop who they believe already grasps their needs.

But in a diocese that includes 126 parishes in the city, suburbs and rural regions as far west as Galena, even the local contenders learned that the needs vary and that it was virtually impossible to have all the right answers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Ulster Anglican parishes deny Catholicism link

Anglican religious group ‘the traditional rite’ today played down reports that members have asked the Vatican for a “full, corporate, sacramental union” with the Catholic Church.

The request, if successful, could result in some parish communities in Ireland – including a number in the north – being received formally into the Catholic Church, according to The Irish Catholic newspaper.

It stated that the parishes in counties Down, Tyrone and Laois could be affected.

They are part of the ‘traditional rite’ within the Church of Ireland who objected to the introduction of the ordination of women by the Irish House of Bishops.

Overall this could involve some 400,000 Anglicans world-wide, although only a few in Ireland would be involved.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Sydney Morning Herald: A daily crisis of love and faith

BRIAN McKINLEY’S plea is simple but heart-felt. “I’d like people to appreciate how hard it is, almost every day of one’s life, to have crisis and division in a church I love because of something that is an intimate part of the way God created me.”

McKinley, a Canberra public servant and lay preacher, is a passionate Christian who lives in a monogamous, committed same-sex relationship with another Christian.

“Do you wake up every morning as a married person and think you are part of the problem dividing the church? I live with this nearly every day. There’s a huge cost,” he says.

“I’m nearly 60, I’m OK. What about the 22-year-old who has just discovered he’s a poofter, but he loves Jesus. How will he cope with that? Some kill themselves.”

McKinley was one of 250 delegates at the Anglican synod in Canberra who sat in silence, lights dimmed, to hear the anonymous testimony of four gay and lesbian Anglicans.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Betsy Hart: Sexuality primer

Seduction and sensuality aren’t “bad,” just the opposite ”” they are wonderful things that were meant for marriage. So, our children’s response to such things is not something for our kids to feel “guilty” about, but to orient rightly.

What a gift we give our kids when we communicate that to them.

And so, when my children do come across that garbage, I don’t want them to just turn away and say, “I can’t look; it’s wrong.” I want to help them to think: “How sad that God’s gift of sensuality would be used in such a cheap way.”

At the same time, our kids have to understand ”” we have to tell them ”” that they are in a culture that pushes them, particularly our girls, to be hyper-sexualized ”” and it’s all part of the same, empty continuum. A dangerous continuum that will never recognize that sensuality outside of marriage is just not, well, good enough for them.

Now, as a mom to four young kids, I’m not naive to think this orientation offers any magical protection for anyone. But I do think we parents have to parent boldly, and in countless ways stand up against the culture and for our kids. This is one of them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

The Bishop of Huron expects same-sex motion to pass

It’s “highly likely” Anglicans in the Diocese of Huron, which includes churches in Waterloo Region, will vote on same-sex blessings at their next decision-making meeting in the spring, the diocese’s bishop says

“I can certainly say it’s highly likely that something will come forward,” Rt. Rev. Bruce Howe said yesterday in a news conference in London, the seat of the diocese.

When asked if he thought such a vote would pass, Howe said “My guess would be yes.”

Howe made his comments just days after delegates at diocesan decision-making meetings, called synods, in Ottawa and Montreal approved blessings for same-sex couples in civil marriages.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Henry Brinton: Do-it-yourself Christianity

As a Presbyterian pastor, I’m often approached by people who are on a search for truth, and as I attempt to help them, I draw on my religious tradition, sacred Scriptures and theological training. Unfortunately, more and more people are taking their quest directly to the Internet, surfing for religious as well as political insights.

I’m convinced that the Christian faith is becoming more like Wikipedia and less like Encyclopedia Britannica. Instead of time-tested religious insights, people are accepting “what others are saying.”

A generation ago, people turned to trusted authorities such as newspapers and mainline churches to get information. But trust in such institutions has fallen over the past 30 years, eroding the relationship between Americans and a number of traditional sources of trust. A poll called the General Social Survey has asked people whether they have “a great deal of confidence” in social institutions, and their answers reveal a clear decline.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

The Economist: in the U.S., Fear is Booming

No surprise, then, that Nightmare has company. Just up the Hudson river is Headless Horseman, where Washington Irving’s fictional and famously decapitated equestrian has returned with dozens of creepy friends in tow. At Terror on the Fox in Green Bay, Wisconsin, visitors can look forward to vertigo, claustrophobia and the scurrying and slithering of live rats and snakes. And Mountville, Pennsylvania’s Field of Screams unleashes a bloodthirsty butcher on adults while youngsters are shunted off to Little Screamers, a non-scary hayride. In fact, some 30m American adults will spend over $650m at America’s more than 1,200 haunted attractions this year.

This is all part of a broader boom for Halloween, which bridges the retailers’ gap between the return to school and Christmas. Stores like Target and Wal-Mart start selling costumes, sweets and other ghoulish offerings as early as Labour Day in early September. Total spending is up more than 50% since 2005, with Americans poised to lay out a record $5 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation, a trade association.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

El Camino Real Sees Reasons for Hope

The Diocese of El Camino Real adopted its 2008 budget Oct. 27 by unanimous voice vote, a turn of events that was a pleasant surprise to those who recall past annual conventions at which every line item was cause for extensive debate.

Bishop-elect Mary Gray-Reeves, who has been in the office for six weeks, attributed the unanimity to the amount of money there was to fight over.

“We don’t have a lot of money,” she said in an interview during a break in the convention.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Executive Council Resolution on the New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting

Via email:

Resolved, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Dearborn, Michigan, expresses its appreciation to the House of Bishops for undertaking the monumental task of trying to clarify the conflict between the canons of the Episcopal Church and the demands raised by the Dar E [sic] Salaam communiqué, and be it further

Resolved, the Executive Council affirms with the House of Bishops the essential and renewed study of human sexuality as noted in the “listening process” of the Lambeth Conference of 1998, and be it further

Resolved, that the House of Bishops’ statement exacerbated feelings of exclusion felt by many of the lesbian and gay members of our church by defining Resolution B033 from the 75th General Convention to include lesbian and gay people, and be it further

Resolved, that by calling particular attention to the application of B033 to lesbian and gay person [sic], it may inappropriately suggest that an additional qualification for the episcopacy has been imposed beyond those contained in the constitutions and canons of the church, and be it further

Resolved, that while B033 focuses on the consent process for bishops, the broader impact is to discourage the full participation by lesbians and gay persons in the life of the church and enshrine discrimination in the policies of the Episcopal Church, and be it further

Resolved, that the Executive Council acknowledge with regret the additional pain and estrangement inflicted on lesbian and gay members of the church, and we pledge to work toward a time when our church will fully respect the dignity of every human being in all aspects of the life of our church.

Update: Ralph Webb has some comments on this here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

A Life Saver Called "Plumpynut"

You’ve probably never heard a good news story about malnutrition, but you’re about to. Every year, malnutrition kills five million children — that’s one child every six seconds. But now, the Nobel Prize-winning relief group “Doctors Without Borders” says it finally has something that can save millions of these children.

It’s cheap, easy to make and even easier to use. What is this miraculous cure? As CNN’s Anderson Cooper reports, it’s a ready-to-eat, vitamin-enriched concoction called “Plumpynut,” an unusual name for a food that may just be the most important advance ever to cure and prevent malnutrition.

“It’s a revolution in nutritional affairs,” says Dr. Milton Tectonidis, the chief nutritionist for Doctors Without Borders.

Another from the long list of have-not-had-time-to-post-yet stuff. Read it all or better yet take the time to watch the video (a little over 11 minutes)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Hunger/Malnutrition

A Response from the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church to The Draft Anglican Covenant

Section 3: “Our Commitment to Confession of the Faith”
Reactions to this section are highly mixed, leading us to ask if this section is particularly necessary to the Covenant. Section 3: “Our Commitment to Confession of the Faith,” as it stands, incorporates a wide range of commitments many of which are broadly accepted but some of which imply agreement to as yet undetermined Communion-wide understandings. There seems to be little in this section that cannot be understood as growing from the positive affirmations of our Anglican Christian identity developed in Section 2: “The Life We Share,” or in Section 4: “The Life We Share With Others.” If Section 3 is to be retained, many believe that it needs considerable reworking.

While the commitments contained in Section 3 are commendable, the language used for some of them is subject to various interpretations and misinterpretations. It seems to many of us unwise to place language of this sort within the Covenant without having a clear and agreed-upon definition of what these terms mean.

For example, what does the phrase “biblically derived moral values” mean and how are such values determined? In the American context, the phrase, “biblically-derived moral values,” is fraught with baggage. On the individual level this phrase can convey a facile and judgmental approach to Christian moral ethics and decision-making not in keeping with the best of Anglicanism. Historically, some of the greatest national sins of conquest and subjugation have been defended by appeal to “biblically-derived moral values.”

Similarly, we might ask what understanding of human nature is operative in the phrase “the vision of humanity”? Clearly, Holy Scripture contains a very complex and, at times, paradoxical vision of humanity. Using a phrase like this in the context of the covenant seems to ignore these complexities and the difficulties that Christians have had through the centuries in understanding and applying this biblical vision of humanity to their lives and societies.

We would suggest that it is disputes over concepts like these that have led to some of the current challenges before the Anglican Communion. We doubt that using such terms in the body of the covenant without further definition would advance the interest of unity or a common understanding of what the terms mean and how they should be applied.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Andrew McNair: The Reality of the Devil

The new millennium marks for many teens and young adults a renewed interest in spirituality.

What type of spirituality? Christian? No. Islamic? No. How about an Eastern spirituality like Taoism? Wrong again.

Try Satanism.

That’s right. The occult movement of Satanism ranks number one among teens and young adults as their preferred spirituality.

We could dismiss the ascendancy of Satanism in the United States as a fad of the young; something they will grow out of with time. In others words, it’s nothing to worry about.

In my judgment, that’s the wrong approach to the spiritual and cultural phenomenon of Satanism. People need to understand that Satanic spirituality leaves deep spiritual and psychological scars on its victims. Christians should know how to recognize and combat satanic spirituality. Where do we begin?

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

William Wolff on Interfaith Marriage

ADAM and Abigail met over a leaky kettle in a cubbyhole off the same staircase at their Cambridge college. Soon they appeared regularly in each other’s rooms, his on the first floor, hers on the fourth. And halfway through their first term they had become an item. Three years on they went their separate ways with their different degrees. But within a year Abigail had got her own flat, and Adam moved in. Seven years on they are desperate to get married but cannot sort out how.

They are of different faiths – Adam is an Anglican, Abigail is Jewish. And they are facing a chasm that too many religious institutions – Muslim, Christian and Jewish – have yet to bridge. It is the one area in which many of us are limping way behind the multicultural society and its norms by which most of our nominal adherents now live.

If the ozone layer and our physical climate have changed in the past decade or two, then the culture within which all our religious institutions operate has changed far more dramatically. It is as if the Equator has moved to the North Pole, and in nothing more so than marriage and its great rival, relationships.

After centuries and millennia of marrying only members of our own faiths, most of us have yet to offer services and ceremonies to the vast numbers of those who are now forging unions across the barriers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

In San Diego, Faith, hope and community are the focus

From synagogues to churches, clergy are turning their attention to questions still burning in the embers of this week’s tragedies.
Why me?

Why not me?

What now?

“Just try to help people make sense of their experiences,” Rabbi Tamar Malino said in hurried comments between phone calls as she checked on members of Temple Adat Shalom in Poway (Shabbat services are at 10 a.m. today; 15905 Pomerado Road).

Some denominations are planning special gatherings in response to the firestorms that turned much of San Diego County into an inferno.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Door still open for Quincy Diocese exit from Anglican church

An Episcopal train still may be leaving an Anglican station, and members of the Quincy Diocese are waiting for it to pass by before deciding to disembark, according to a diocesan press officer.

Resolutions paving the way for a possible split from the embattled U.S. Episcopal Church body were approved during an annual synod meeting last weekend at Christ Church in Moline, said the Rev. John Spencer.

No final decisions about leaving were or could have been made during that synod meeting, he said.

Church constitution requires two readings of such resolutions before they can be made binding.

Passing the first resolution “took the first steps, constitutionally, to make it possible to realign when the time is appropriate to do so,” Rev. Spencer said. “You could say we’re waiting for the train to pass by before making a final crossing.”

Several sister dioceses are considering similar resolutions, and Quincy leaders want to wait to see what others decide.

“We’re trying to work as a unit with our sister dioceses, so it’s not just one synod acting on its own,” Rev. Spencer said. “It’s a timing issue.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Richard Kew: Why the American Church crisis is not front and center

It isn’t that there aren’t gifted and godly people attempting to find the way to bring Christ into the lives of the unchurched population of this land. To my delight I have been discovering some of the most committed and creative people imaginable who are seeking to respond to today’s challenge, but there are few parts of England where the seed when planted sprouts forth thirty, fifty, a hundredfold. In most places the going is much tougher than that, and apart from this wistfulness that there must be something more to existence than this, there is little evidence of the spiritual tide turning.

Thus, the goings on in the United States are not going to be on the front burner. What is happening in America is a bit of static, there in the background, irritating, but like someone else’s civil war of which we here are spectators. It is almost as if the English church is saying, “We’re sorry, we have bigger fish to fry.”

Yet when one part of the Body is troubled there is no way that another part can responsibly wash its hands of the problems. If you were to ask me what is the biggest problem facing the English church at this time, it is that in so many ways it has taken on the relativistic utilitarianism that prevails in so much British thinking. Thus, instead of expressing conviction and living it out, it shrugs its shoulders and says we must be tolerant, committed to diversity, non-judgmental, living and letting live. While some of this may be admirable, it should not take place at the expense of biblical standards and values, however unpopular they might be in the prevailing culture.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC)

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas Responds to S.C.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

NY Times Magazine: Evangelical Crackup

Many conservative Christian leaders say they can count on the specter of a second Clinton presidency to fire up their constituents. But the prospect of an Obama-Giuliani race is another matter. “You would have a bunch of people who traditionally vote Republican going over to Obama,” said the Rev. Donald Wildmon, founder of the Christian conservative American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss., known for its consumer boycotts over obscenity or gay issues.

In the Wichita churches this summer, Obama was the Democrat who drew the most interest. Several mentioned that he had spoken at Warren’s Saddleback church and said they were intrigued. But just as many people ruled out Obama because they suspected that he was not Christian at all but in fact a crypto-Muslim ”” a rumor that spread around the Internet earlier this year. “There is just that ill feeling, and part of it is his faith,” Welsh said. “Is his faith anti-Christian? Is he a Muslim? And what about the school where he was raised?”

“Obama sounds too much like Osama,” said Kayla Nickel of Westlink. “When he says his name, I am like, ”˜I am not voting for a Muslim!’ ”

Fox, meanwhile, is already preparing to do his part to get Wichita’s conservative faithful to the polls next November. Standing before a few hundred worshipers at the Johnny Western Theater last summer, Fox warned his new congregation not to let go of that old-time religion. “Hell is just as hot as it ever was,” he reminded them. “It just has more people in it.”

Fox told me: “I think the religious community is probably reflective of the rest of the nation ”” it is very divided right now. This election process is going to reveal a lot about where the religious right and the religious community is. It will show unity or the lack of it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Truro Church will install a new rector

The Anglican District of Virginia will install the Rev. Tory Baucum tomorrow as rector of Truro Church in Fairfax. The Anglican District is an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia and part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

The installation will take place at 11:15 a.m. at Truro Church, 10520 Main St.

Baucum serves as a missioner of Alpha International and an adjunct professor of mission at Asbury Theological Seminary. He received a doctorate in intercultural theology with expertise in the catechumenate, Christian revitalization movements and the history of preaching.

Posted in Uncategorized

Methodists Meet to Evaluate Transgenderism, Starting With Baltimore Pastor

The Rev. Drew Phoenix is many things to many people.

To congregants of St. John’s of Baltimore, he’s the fun-loving pastor who counsels them, takes their children hiking, explains Scripture and plunges into worthy causes.

To conservative Methodists, Phoenix embodies another front in the culture wars: a rebel who has defied God and nature and should be removed from ministry.

To mainstream society, Phoenix is an enigma who transcends traditional sexual boundaries, provoking uncomfortable questions about the interplay between body, mind and soul.

To the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church, he’s number IV on the docket for its Oct. 24-27 session: “A Review of Bishop’s Decision . . . Whether Transgendered Persons Are Eligible for Appointment in The United Methodist Church.”

The issue of transgenderism seems too hot to touch for religious Americans already bitterly divided over sexual orientation. A number of Methodist theologians and ethicists asked to comment for this article declined.

But as scientific advances and changing sexual mores allow transgender people to slowly move into the mainstream, religious leaders will soon have to grapple with the theological implications of sexual identity, scholars say.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches

Executive Council receives draft response to proposed Anglican covenant

Jefferts Schori also reported briefly on the September meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. Noting the presence of members of the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion at the New Orleans meeting, she said “the bishops heard some very challenging words from the visitors.”

She said that she was pleased with the statement the bishops issued to the Anglican Communion at the end of the meeting. “Not everyone was comfortable where we stood, but we stood together,” she said.

The JSC also recognized that the Episcopal Church has a “vocation in this season to keep the issues of human sexuality before the communion,” Jefferts Schori said, adding that not all of the JSC members like that situation, but she said they do recognize the Episcopal Church’s vocation.

The communion is involved in a “signal shift” these days, Jefferts Schori said, back to mission questions and “basic living issues.” She cited the recent communiqué from the Council of the Anglican Provinces of Africa as an example.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Cary McMullen: Stitches In Time To Save a Church?

It has been an eventful two weeks in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. With a suddenness no one could have foreseen, the Orlando headquarters of the diocese has become ground zero for the latest phase of controversy in the Episcopal Church.

Last week, nine priests in the diocese – two of them from Polk County – met with Bishop John Howe to discuss ways they and parts of their congregations might “disaffiliate” with the Episcopal Church. The move was not exactly a surprise. It had been rumored that as many as 17 priests, disaffected by the liberal direction of the Episcopal Church, might seek to break away. But following the Oct. 18 meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury weighed in, and the implications have reverberated around the Episcopal blogosphere. More on that momentarily.

Howe has been in a tough spot. He’s conservative on moral questions and participated in various consultations among the minority of bishops unhappy with the Episcopal Church’s actions on the ordination of gays and the blessing of their unions.

But Howe has steadfastly pledged his loyalty to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the international Anglican Communion, and he has been reluctant to take steps that might put himself at odds with Williams.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology